When looking back at the previous year and ahead at the year to come the processes within an organization should be evaluated for potential improvement. Processes can be looked at from a cost perspective and from a sales perspective. Cost reduction and sales increase are the goals of process improvement. There are many processes within an automotive repair operation and the list below is by no means meant to be all inclusive. These are 6 possible areas where gains may be realized:
- Quote Processing – Quotes take time and therefore cost money however they bring in business. Therefore it’s important that quotes are produced as efficiently and effectively as possible. New Business quotes usually have a lower success rate but they result in new customers being earned. Quotes for Existing Customers are just as important and usually have a higher success rate. The quote process includes many opportunities for business growth and they should be exploited as much as possible.
- Appointment Process – Working to an appointment schedule versus relying on walk in business can significantly improve efficiencies. If the vehicle repair work required for an appointment is defined at the appointment stage, work can be scheduled and parts can be ordered (if the appointment is reliable) in advance of the vehicle arriving. Advance planning can accelerate the repair process and allow for greater throughput.
- Vehicle Check In – The check in process is one of the points of pain for the customer. So making it as quick and simple as possible while taking up as little of the customer’s time as possible will vastly improve customer service. In this area efficiency for the customer can take precedence over shop efficiency to whatever extent id practical.
- Diagnosis – The diagnosis process follows a sequence of steps including diagnosing and identifying the problem, defining the repairs required to correct the problem, providing the customer with pricing on the recommended repairs, obtaining authorization from the customer then performing the recommended repairs. More and more shops are performing these steps electronically and eliminating paper thus streamlining the process and reducing costs.
- Inspection – Inspections can bring additional work into the shop. But they cost money as time is spent performing them. So streamlining and automating the inspection process as much as possible can serve to reduce costs and increase profits. Also enhancing the presentation aspect of the process can improve upselling results.
- Vehicle Delivery – Returning the vehicle to the customer is a critical point in the repair process as it enforces customer relationships. Therefore it should be as simple and easy as possible for the customer but should allow for the level of interaction the customer desires. To further complicate things this can vary from customer to customer. It’s always positive to streamline and automate processes wherever possible but customer relationship building should not suffer as a result of cost cutting.